Death Wish II (1982)

Even more preposterous, crueler and nastier than the first film, Death Wish II somehow manages to be better than its predecessor, or at least more enjoyable and memorable, by doubling down on Winner’s impulses to the point where the whole thing is just ridiculous. The extended rape scene is infamous for its unwavering and gleeful savagery but the opening act’s trawl through a series of ever-increasingly bleak scenarios plays like some sort of dark joke. Rape, murder, rape, attack, rape suicide, and on it goes. The 80s setting also adds a welcome visual alternative to the gritty blandness that usually comes with this material. Seeing Bronson stalk around neon-lit streets, brushing shoulders with punks and new-wave thugs certainly has its pleasures. Oh and why not throw in a droning Jimmy Page score for good measure. Might as well!

As with the previous Death Wish, the plot and violence are stupid but unlike that film this one seems to be in on that silliness with a certain level of knowing, making the whole thing go down easier. There are scrappy fistfights and people getting electrocuted as well as Kersey’s clueless new wife (he moved on fast!) being totally oblivious to her husband’s nocturnal activities, ignoring all the evidence staring her in the face and choosing instead to just smile through all of his half-assed explanations. At the very end of the film Bronson is asked if can make a birthday party happening the following week. He smiles to camera and mugs, “what else would I be doing?” Finally, he seems to understand what kind of movie he’s starring in.

Watched on blu-ray.

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